One Hell of An Eye
The Official Blog of Mike Salisbury
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Hunter Thompson was sitting in front of me.  We were in the small theater in North Beach.  A dark place.  I could only see two rows of seats running downhill twenty feet deep into the blackness.  It was one of Bob Marley’s first American shows.  I was the art director of Rolling Stone and a photographer for international publications like Vogue, Esquire, the Sunday Times of London, People.  Hunter was in San Francisco to get paid by Rolling Stone or just to shoot somebody since he never delivered his writing to the magazine in person.  He faxed all his stories in and it took days.

Turning to me in that dark little theater, cigarette unlit in a long cigarette holder, Hunter reached back with his pinkie raised and offered me a little white stamp held delicately between his thumb and forefinger like the wing of a butterfly.  On the stamp was a line print in blue of Mr. Natural.

“Take it, Mad Dog,” he said.

Thinking of Hunter these few years after his death, I remembered that gift from him but I had forgotten that everyone I know in San Francisco, besides my family there, calls me Mad Dog.  Hunter gave me that handle the night he gave me the tab of LSD.

Thompson made a habit of insulting and challenging anyone who could see or hear him.  But never me.  That little stamp was in my wallet for years.  I never dropped that acid.  I never actually dropped any.  A Mad Dog needs no help.  And the tab was my seal of Hunter’s approval.

Thinking back I try to recall what got me so much respect as to actually be labeled crazy-mad.  I don’t think of that word in the politically incorrect way.  It is a compliment.  Like the Beatnik use of crazy as in “crazy, man.”  Or to be really different when everyone was really trying to be different.  “You are sooooo fuckin’ crazy man.”  It was San Francisco.

I had come back to the city from LA.  Being from LA was not being from the Bay Area in the 70’s.  People in LA are driven.  Speedy.  I was quite capable of working all-nighters for five days and then going to party for five more.  So to the hippies of Haight Ashbury who worked all night with me but then slept it off, I guess I was a mad dog.

The Mad Dog Squad

The Mad Dog Squad

The first person who correctly identifies all the players in this photo gets a copy of my book,”I Sold Sex, Drugs & Rock n’ Roll”…take a shot

(UPDATE:  Thanks, everyone…a lot of great congrats came by e mail so they are not here in the comments section.  No winners on the photo contest, although Roman Coppola got 3.5 correct!)

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12.9.09 e-exchange:

Nelson: The blog looks great.  I wish you still had that tab of LSD.

Mike: Hey, if I had it, I would auction it with Christie’s.

Nelson: I guess money would be good, too.  But you could give it to Johnny Depp and film him on Hunter’s acid.  That would be one hell of a blog post!

Mike: I think the tab eventually melted into the old rubber in my faux cardboard wallet, both becoming a circular bas relief advertising my unused masculinity.

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Thanks Mike and Happy New Year!

I was reading your blog earlier today.  Love it.  Great story about Hunter.  Interesting to read your take on difference in between LA and SF!  You were working circles around your peers in SF.  Cool!   Mark A.

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…I’m the man with one hell of a good eye.

surfer Mike lg web

Speaking of seeing, see some new work:

O'Neill_Hyperfreak_II a

Most surf apparel ads haven’t changed much since the Gotcha campaigns we created.  I worked with Martijn Andriessen and his boss Eppo van Berckelaer of O’Neill Europe to change all that with campaigns we created for O’neill HyperFreak and multi-use Hybrid board shorts.  Steve Ward and Andy Juric, with Bret Muhlitner of O’Neill here in Irvine were a big help.  So was Michael Tomson.  Photographer is Bob Scott for Hyper and Rick Frasier for Hybrid, with Mark Kalan producing and Matt Bright designing.

o'neill_hybrid 1O’Neill Hybrid

Next post…Hunter Thompson!